Virginia gubernatorial election, 2009

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The 2009 Virginia gubernatorial election was held on November 3, 2009, following a Democratic primary election on June 9, 2009 and a Republican statewide convention on May 30, 2009. Bob McDonnell (R) ran against Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) and won the election with 58.6% of the popular vote.[1] Governor McDonnell was sworn in on January 16, 2010.

Race background

This election had only 22 counties voting democratic, the smallest amount in any statewide election in the past eight years.[2] In the case of Newport News City, Deeds topped McDonnell with only 14 votes.[3] McDonnell, with his 58.6% of the general election vote, had the largest percentage win of any gubernatorial race in 48 years.[4]


Governor of Virginia General Election, 2009
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Creigh Deeds 41.3% 818,950
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngBob McDonnell 58.6% 1,163,651
     None Write In 0.1% 2,502
Total Votes 1,985,103


General Election Candidates

Democratic Party Creigh Deeds
Republican Party Bob McDonnellGreen check mark transparent.png

Candidate Background

  • Creigh Deeds was a Democratic member of the Virginia State Senate since 2001, representing the 25th District. In addition to serving as senator Deeds worked as an attorney. Previously Deeds was a member of the House of Delegates from 1992-2001.
  • Bob McDonnell won the election for Attorney General of Virginia in 2005, narrowly defeating his oponenent in this gubernatorial election, state Senator Creigh Deeds, by just 323 votes. He was first elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1992 and served seven terms representing the 84th District. He served as chair of the Courts of Justice Committee, co-chair of the Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee, and as Assistant Majority Leader.

Primary candidates

Democratic candidates[5]

Candidate Background

  • Terry McAuliffe earned his bachelor's degree from Catholic University. He later received his Juris Doctor from Georgetown Law School. He went on to become a successful American businessman, political adviser for the Democratic Party and former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, serving from 2001 to 2005. He served as co-chairman of President Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign and chairman of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.
  • Brian Moran was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, representing district 46 from 1996 until 2008.

Republican candidates

  • Bob McDonnell was nominated on May 30, 2009 at the Republican statewide convention.[6]

Nominating conventions

Nominating Conventions in Virginia

The candidate selection process in Virginia differs between the political parties. According to the Code of Virginia:[7]

“The duly constituted authorities of the state political party shall have the right to determine the method by which a party nomination for a member of the United States Senate or for any statewide office shall be made. The duly constituted authorities of the political party for the district, county, city, or town in which any other office is to be filled shall have the right to determine the method by which a party nomination for that office shall be made.”

Democratic Party

The Democratic Party in Virginia used conventions to select nominees for statewide offices between 1981 and 2001 before shifting to primaries. The Virginia Democratic Party switched to the convention format for the 1981 election cycle to moderate the party after independent candidate Henry Howell won the 1977 primary. The nominating convention proved successful for Democrats in the 1980s with the election of Chuck Robb in 1981, Gerald Baliles in 1985 and Douglas Wilder in 1989. The change back to primaries in 2001 took place because of significant losses in state elections by the Democrats in 1993 and 1997. The Democratic Party did not hold a gubernatorial primary in the 2001 and 2005 election cycles as Mark Warner and Tim Kaine ran unopposed.[8]

Governor of Virginia Democratic Primarary, 2009
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngCreigh Deeds 49.8% 158,845
Terry McAuliffe 26.4% 84,387
Brian Moran 23.8% 75,936
Total Votes 319,168
Election Results Via: Virginia State Board of Elections
  • Deeds won the primary held June 9, 2009 and went on to face McDonnell in the general election.

Republican Party

The Republican Party in Virginia has used conventions to select nominees for statewide offices for much of its history. Republicans have only used primaries to nominate candidates in 1949, 1989, 1997 and 2005.[8] The convention process used in most elections draws from delegates selected by Republicans during municipal and county conventions. The number of delegates per county depends on the strength of the Republican Party in past elections.[9]

Delegates cast their votes on separate ballots for each statewide office. Any candidates who are uncontested automatically receive the party’s nomination. Contested races start with a ballot to determine if a candidate can surpass the 50% threshold. A candidate who wins more than 50% of first-round ballots receives the nomination for that office. If the first round of ballots does not clear this threshold, the two candidates with the fewest votes are eliminated. The balloting process cuts candidates in each round until three candidates remain. A ballot is taken to eliminate a third-place finisher and a final ballot is taken between the two remaining candidates.[10]

  • McDonnell accepted the nomination May 30th, 2009 at the largest convention in 15 years.[11]


2009 Gubernatorial Race Polls
Poll McDonnell (R) Deeds (D)UndecidedSample Size
Survey USA
November 1, 2009
Rasmussen Report
October 28, 2009
Suffolk University
October 29, 2009
AVERAGES 54.67% 40.33% 4.67% 658
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Campaign finance

The Virginia State Board of Elections administers campaign finance law and maintains all records online. A total of eight gubernatorial candidates spent a total amount of $62,909,717 over the course of the election.[12]

General Election

Deeds lost the election to the position of Governor of Virginia in 2009. During that election cycle, Deeds raised a total of $17,087,760.

McDonnell won re-election to the position of Governor of Virginia in 2009. During that election cycle, McDonnell raised a total of $24,049,371.

  • Between the two parties there was a 20 cent difference in the amount of money spent per vote received.

Primary Elections

According to the Virginia Public Access Projects's results from November 3, 2009, Creigh Deeds spent $3,487,613 in the primary election.

Campaign sites & media

Campaign websites

Bob McDonnell

Bob McDonnell's campaign promoted the website which now is kept updated to his current events.

Creigh Deeds

For the time leading up to the election, "" was the main campaign website for Creigh Deeds. It is no longer active.[13]

Website Comparison

These images are from October 12, 2009 from each candidate's campaign website. These were accessed using the The Internet Archive: Wayback Machine

Bobmcdonnell website.png
The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine was used to recall this version of the website from October 12, 2009.

Creighdeeds website.png
The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine was used to recall this version of the website from October 12, 2009.


Bob McDonnell's Television Ad - September 2009 video.[14]

Bob McDonnell released this television ad in September of 2009. It was referred to by the title "Leadership" on the media section of his website.[15]

See also

External links